WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued the following statement by Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project, responding to the Biden administration’s planned reimplementation of the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
“The Trump administration created ‘Remain in Mexico’ to deprive those seeking asylum of access to safety, basic human needs, and legal assistance and thereby ensure that their claims were denied. Despite the Biden administration’s purported efforts to have addressed certain ‘humanitarian concerns about the previous implementation’ of the policy, this iteration contains few differences from that imposed during the Trump era. The vulnerability exceptions in the new guidance remain far too narrow, and the provisions regarding access to counsel are a far cry from meaningful representation.
“While the Biden administration’s previous effort to rescind ‘Remain in Mexico’ was blocked by the courts, they cannot act as if some minor tweaks can fix this inherently flawed policy. Instead, the administration should focus its energy and resources on establishing a fair and humane asylum process for all those who seek protection.”
Two weeks after the government returned the first person under the Remain in Mexico policy on Jan. 29, 2019, the SPLC, in partnership with the ACLU and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, filed a lawsuit, Innovation Law Lab v. Wolf, challenging the legality of the policy on behalf of affected asylum seekers and six legal service providers.
In October 2020, the SPLC, in partnership with Innovation Law Lab, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and pro bono partner Arnold & Porter LLP, filed an additional lawsuit, Immigrant Defenders w. Wolf, challenging the implementation of the Remain in Mexico policy. That lawsuit alleged that by trapping asylum seekers in dangerous zones in Mexico, the policy deprived thousands of asylum seekers of access to legal assistance and other tools needed to meaningfully present their claims.
The SPLC and its partners will continue to fight this illegal and inhumane policy.